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Official Complaints Over '4G' Marketing of New iPad Taking Hold in Europe

Yesterday, we noted that Australian regulators are targeting Apple over its "misleading" marketing of the new iPad as a "4G" device in the country despite the fact that the device is incompatible with LTE networks being rolled out there. In response, Apple has offered refunds to customers who feel they were misled by the marketing.


Concerns over the 4G marketing are now getting the attention of regulators in several European countries as well, with The Wall Street Journal noting that the Swedish Consumer Agency is also considering launching an investigation into the matter.
Marek Andersson, a lawyer at the authority whose task is to safeguard consumer interests in Sweden, said the consumer agency has received several complaints from consumers over marketing which touts the new iPad as having 4G connectivity. [...]

“One may rightfully ask if the marketing of the new iPad is misleading,” Mr. Andersson said. While iPad is equipped with 4G connectivity, it will only work in the U.S. and Canada.

“The question is whether this information is clear enough in Apple’s marketing,” he added.
Meanwhile, Pocket-lint reports that a similar situation is playing out in the United Kingdom, where the Advertising Standards Authority is also fielding complaints from customers about the issue.
“We are aware of the news from Australia regarding the iPad 4G marketing claim,” an ASA spokeswoman told us. “Without going through due process we can't say whether the (UK) ad is likely to be problematic. If anyone has concerns about the iPad ad then they can lodge a complaint with us and we will establish whether or not there is a problem under the Code.”
The UK has strict regulation of advertising claims, and Apple's marketing has been the subject of several decisions from the ASA. In 2008, the agency banned an iPhone ad over misleading claims, while a more recent decision regarding claims of the world's thinnest smartphone came down in Apple's favor. The ASA also ruled in Apple's favor last month in a dispute over advertising for Siri on the iPhone 4S.

Related roundup: iPad Air

Top Rated Comments

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31 months ago
I actually think if Apple are using the 4G capability of the new iPad to be a major part of their marketing strategy in countries that do not have 4G infrastructure in place then it's a fair point to bring them to task on this. It is somewhat dishonest to prominently highlight a feature that is incompatible / unavailable in a territory.
Rating: 23 Votes
31 months ago

every other company does the same thing.


Citation needed.
Rating: 20 Votes
31 months ago
Nobody seems to have really understood the problem here..

It's not that these countries don't have 4G networks or whether or not Apple call it 4G for marketing reasons (as said above, everybody does).

The problem is that these countries HAVE 4G networks but don't work with the same frequencies that the US networks. The new iPad is only compatible with the US 4G frequencies.

They still sell it in other countries saying it's 4G, but even with a carrier with a 4G LTE network, it will not work.
Rating: 16 Votes
31 months ago
We can expect the hammer to fall on Apple in the UK fairly shortly as well. I just received an email with the following text following my highlighting to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) of the ambiguity of Apple's Marketing:


"Dear Mr Flynn

Thank you for your recent complaint regarding. I am sorry to hear that this advert has caused you concern.

You may be interested to know that we have received a number of complaints about this ad for the reasons you describe. I will add your complaint to our file, and you can expect to hear from a member of our Investigations team in due course.

In the meantime I would like to thank you for your patience and for bringing this to our attention."


Before anybody jumps on my back, nobody is suing anybody, there are just many of us over in Europe and elsewhere (ie. anywhere that is not in North America) who take serious issue with something being advertised as "Wi-Fi + 4G" when the device concerned will NEVER support the frequency bandings that we as a region (in my case, the EU) have chosen as our standard for LTE (800/2600MHz). I don't care that the 3G capability is "almost as fast" as North American 4G, the EU and Ofcom in the UK define 4G as: "WiMAX, WiMAX2, LTE and LTE-Advanced", and "The New iPad" doesn't support any of these in any of the regions in which it is being advertised as 4G outside North America.

I realise this will hardly affect sales, but at least it shows Apple can't just waltz around making up it's own rules as it goes along.
Rating: 14 Votes
31 months ago

This is just so stupid. Europe is so far behind with 4G and LTE and has to use a different frequency. This is part apple's fault but Europe really needs to get with the program.


Isn't the US late to the 4G game ? Where do you get "different frequencies" as meaning they "need to get with the program" ? Have you ever thought that maybe it's the US that's being dumb with its choice of frequencies ? :rolleyes:
Rating: 12 Votes
31 months ago

I actually think if Apple are using the 4G capability of the new iPad to be a major part of their marketing strategy in countries that do not have 4G infrastructure in place then it's a fair point to bring them to task on this. It is somewhat dishonest to prominently highlight a feature that is incompatible / unavailable in a territory.


European countries --DO-- have LTE infrastructure. It's just that the iPad is ONLY compatible with the LTE-infrastructure of the United States, but Apple's ads make you believe that the iPad will work with LTE ANYWHERE.
Rating: 11 Votes
31 months ago
There seems to be a lot of misinformation about the state of European 4G networks among some of this forum's American users. While not blanket covered, a lot of countries, including my own, actually do have 4G networks up and running. And I am talking about LTE networks here, not just souped up 3G ones.

I can't speak for the rest of Europe, but us Swedes don't appreciate this kind of bait and switch marketing. Apple made a questionable decision in settling for two chips (respectively) that only supports American networks. They were fine with making two distinct versions for (roughly) Verizon and AT&T. So make one for European standards? Either that, or take your false advertising and shove it back up that mendacious hole it came from. No homo.
Rating: 10 Votes
31 months ago

Even if Apple changes the name to just iPad Wifi+3G or Wifi+Data for Europe, everyone else in the world knows this as the 4G iPad.

Apple should just not mention 4G on the boxes shipped to Europe and take 4G off their European sites.

This is just so stupid. Europe is so far behind with 4G and LTE and has to use a different frequency. This is part apple's fault but Europe really needs to get with the program.


Exscuse me?

I think your find the US is the fault for the frequency fragmentation, all carriers in the EU use the same frequency bands, then the US started to launch GSM networks on weird wacky frequencies.
Rating: 10 Votes
31 months ago

From Apple's website. When you see something with an "*" or a little number by it, that means there is a footnote. READ IT. It is not that hard.

"2. 4G LTE is supported only on AT&T and Verizon networks in the U.S. and on Bell, Rogers, and Telus networks in Canada. Data plans sold separately. See your carrier for details."


This isn't the point. If someone like Hitachi tendered for some High-Speed train infrastructure opportunity with an American company like Amtrak calling their trains "High-Speed - 200mph+) and buried in the fine print that they only went 200mph+ on Uzbekistan's bespoke 5ft 7.5" gauge railway system and in fact only went at 150mph on your gauge, Amtrak would be on the phone to their lawyers quicker than I could say "Class Action Lawsuit".

It's frankly hilarious to hear people moaning about individuals who feel they have cause to complain to their advertising regulators. These people (including myself) have nothing to gain monetarily, we just feel like a company is taking liberties with their advertising practises.

The criticism is certainly hypocritical coming from a land where people can (rightly or wrongly) attempt to sue fast-food companies for making them fat...
Rating: 9 Votes
31 months ago
The whole 4G thing is a mess.

Wireless around the world is actually a mess. Carriers like it that way (helps with lock in).

Apple should definitely be the "bigger company" and not play this game. Advertise reality, and win the respect of customers for it.
Rating: 9 Votes

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